Tag Archives: Covey Run

Mule soup: long-eared vindication on a lazy afternoon

Twenty mule team cargo racing through the desert. Courtesy wpclipart.com

Ah, the workhorses — nay, work-MULES — of the West: A twenty-mule-team outfit rambles through the desert. Photo: wpclipart.com

Sometimes we pioneers in the barren wilderness of the blogosphere think it might all be a lost cause. We throw seeds into the wind and they blow away onto rocky ground, never to flower into the loveliness of a response. So it was with this little country ramble that Art Scatter took way back on Sept. 14, when he spent a summer afternoon at Hells Canyon Mule Days in far northeast Oregon and shot a bloggish missive into silence.

Until — o joy — this warm and funny response arrived from mule gal Eva Willingham, whose comment is so filled with peckish good humor that we hope she writes again:

It cracks me up that you have gotten such a good handle on mules in such a short time. It’s taken some people years to figure them out, which is that you can’t figure them out. On the other hand, once you have ridden a mule, it’s really hard to go back to a horse. I do as much trail riding as possible. Packing, as well. I can ride a mule all day and never feel fatigued. I ride my horse for a few hours and know I’ve been on a horse. Because of the way they are built, they ride like Chevies instead of Fords. Hope you’re not a Ford person. This very weekend at 2:00 in Newberg at Devenwood you can observe a mule competing against some very pricy warmbloods and kicking butt. You want to see a mule at its finest, go watch.

Of course I’m flattered to have my powers of mulish perspicacity recognized by someone who actually knows what she’s talking about.

bluepintoAnd I like thinking about a mule as a Chevy and a horse as a Ford, although the only time that most of America really focuses on horses — Kentucky Derby weekend — the proper vehicular analog might by the Maserati: It goes really fast, and it’s always breaking down. City slicker that I am, I’m afraid I’m currently pretty much a Honda and Toyota man, although I did once own a Ford Pinto — most uncomfortable car ever created, and let’s not even think about those exploding fuel tanks.

I’m sorry to be missing the spectacle in Newberg, which I’m sure is a fine and lovely thing. But my weekend’s been pretty busy, what with all this writing stuff (some of it for actual money; you don’t get to see the paying pieces on Art Scatter) and gadding about town. Friday night was Portland Opera’s feisty, funny, gorgeously sung La Boheme. Saturday night I spent at Clackamas Repertory Theatre watching a warm production of Alfred Uhry’s play The Last Night of Ballyhoo; a review is supposed to pop up in The Oregonian on Monday morning. Tonight our friend Michele Mariana, who did some voice work and sang a song in the movie version of Neil Gaiman‘s novel Coraline, is dropping over for dinner and bringing a DVD of the movie, which we’ll watch.

img00034In the meantime, Mrs. Scatter has whomped up a tasty-smelling veggie chili for dinner tonight. And as she’s  scampered off with the smaller Large Smelly Boy to some sort of mallish destination in search of pants that actually fit him — update, via Blackerry: “I’m in hell. Stores: 4. Pants: O. Next up: Refreshments. Then more stores. You OK getting Michele? I’ll aim for being home at 5.” — it is my solemn task to monitor, stir, and maybe even subtly alter the soup on the stove.

The soup has sweet onions, garlic, red sweet peppers, Santa Fe chili powder from our friend Penelope, some leftover enchilada sauce, zucchini, soft tomatoes, corn, a nifty soy sausage called Soyrizo that has the spicing and texture of a Spanish chorizo, and a few dashes of Covey Run 2005 cabernet sauvignon, an excellent cooking wine from the Columbia Valley in Washington state that you can get for about five bucks a bottle. Some of the ingredients come from the gardens of our friends Susan and Bonnie.

The chili’s coming along quite well. So’s the Covey Run cab. Wish I could say the same for Mrs. Scatter and the smaller Large Smelly Boy’s pants. Now I really should clean up the house a bit. Company’s coming.


Top inset photo: The infamous Ford Pinto. Mine was pumpkin-yellow. This one’s blue. Either way, I’d rather ride a mule. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Lower inset photo: Mrs. Scatter’s delicious vegetarian chili, bubbling on the stove. Photo: The wielder of the cell phone gizmo declines to take credit for the photographic result.

Saturday heat-wave scatter: The farm is on fire!

Mario Carreno, "Fire in the Farm," 1943. Photo: CHRISTIE'S

Eighty-seven degrees, the creaky old thermometer hit this afternoon, and although the nervous native Northwesterner lurking inside me can’t help fretting about an imminent neo-Dust Bowl and amateur revivals of 110 in the Shade (can you imagine a stranger named Starbuck riding in to save the hinterlands from thirst?), the better part of me is exulting in this nice dry heat and the brilliant sun that brings it. A walk with my 11-year-old son to the nearby neighborhood coffee shop confirms that it’s still possible to enjoy a hot cappuccino in a mini-heat wave (or, depending on your age, a cold chocolate milk), and I’m trying to discover the downside to that.

Longtime Portlanders are wondering how the weather can possibly be so glorious before the end of the Rose Festival:
It is clearly written in the city constitution that the Grand Floral Parade must be marched in the midst of a monsoon. So how could this sunshine be? Global warming, I imagine, and although I suppose I feel a little guilty for not feeling guilty about that, I’d rather just enjoy the sun. I promise to worry later. When it rains.

Mrs. Scatter has conveniently scarpered to the coast for a weekend of sampling the vine and creating strange craft-ish items with some girlfriends, which means it’s bachelor days here with the Smelly Boys, 11 and 14 in their chronological persuasions. And that means pizza: cheese for them, “gourmet” veggie for me, and thank you, Papa Murphy, you friendly little corporate entity on the corner. Mine will be accompanied by the Chez Scatter house white, a Covey Run guwurtztraminer. I’ve just given the bottle a feel: It has a nice chill.

Next door this morning, a lawn-mower drone buzzed against the sky, and I cheerfully ignored it. Nor did I force the 14-year-old to unlock the garage and take out our grass-manicuring Luddite model, an antiquated push machine: Wouldn’t want him to actually break a sweat.

Air-conditioning, of course, is evil, but it has its places, and one of them is in movie theaters. As the height of late-afternoon sizzle approached, we three brave males entered the arctic oasis of the Avalon Theatre on Southeast Belmont Street to catch Monsters vs. Aliens, the DreamWorks animated fantasy about, well, a battle supreme between monsters and aliens. May I say a word in appreciation of second-run movie houses? This entire escapade cost seven bucks. The movie was mildly amusing, as easy to ingest as a Sunday morning screwdriver, and it was well worth the minimal price of admission just to see a 50-foot-tall Reece Witherspoon as a space age Gulliver being taken down by an army of G.I. Lilliputians. Spotting the evil alien was easy: If the brainiac squid body wasn’t enough of a tip-off, the fact that he put sugar in his coffee clinched the deal. Yet I must protest: Why was the blob without a brain named Bob? A prediction: An army of angry Bobs will be the next to invade the Earth. Or at least, Hollywood. We’re mad as hell, and we won’t take it any more.

I imagine that sometime around mid-August I’ll start to feel like those poor wilted saps in the painting Fuego en el Batey (Fire in the Farm), above. Thanks to Art Knowledge News for tipping me off that Cuban artist Mario Carreno‘s 1943 painting sold earlier this week at Christie’s in New York for two million, one-hundred-eighty-eight-thousand and one-hundred dollars. Now, that’s a summer sizzler.

Many long moons ago, long before the Huxtables, when he was a young stand-up comic and recordings came on large long-playing vinyl discs, Bill Cosby did a routine about Seattle. As I recall it, whenever the sun came out the natives fell trembling to the ground and cried out lamentations to their god. Oh, forgive us! (or something like that), they shouted. What have we done wrong?

Sorry. Not buying it. Welcome, Sun King, to our humble abode.


P.S.: Happy birthday (on Friday) to Laurel. And many happy returns.